Category Archives: State of the Art

Invitation to Beta Test Web 3.0 Firefox Add-on “Headup”

So you aren’t quite sure yet what Web 2.0 is all about? 

Well, hang onto your hat, as Web 3.0 is slowly galloping to meet us.

This is long, but worth reading (even if I say so myself!), and the Invitation is right at the end – OK?

A bit of history

Web 3.0, a phrase coined by John Markoff of the New York Times in 2006, refers to a third generation of Internet-based services that collectively comprise what might be called ‘the intelligent Web’, and the end of 2006 was the first time that Web 3.0 was  associated with the Semantic Web

Now what the heck is the Semantic Web? It is “an evolving extention of the Internet in which the semantics of information and services on the web is defined, making it possible for the web to understand and satisfy the requests of people and machines to use the web content”. 

It derives from the 3WC director Sir Tim Berners-Lees vision of the Web as a universal medium for data, information and knowledge exchange.

Did I lose you yet?

How about an example (from Markoff, no less)? 

the Holy Grail for developers of the semantic Web is to build a system that can give a reasonable and complete response to a simple question like: ‘I’m looking for a warm place to vacation and I have a budget of $3,000. Oh, and I have an 11-year-old child.

Under today’s system, such a query can lead to hours of sifting — through lists of flights, hotel, car rentals — and the options are often at odds with one another.

Under Web 3.0, the same search would ideally call up a complete vacation package that was planned as meticulously as if it had been assembled by a human travel agent.

The day after Markoff’s article was published, it was torn to pieces by Thomas Claburn in The InformationWeek.

That was in 2006.

Where is the Semantic Web in 2009?

Last night I braved the Jerusalem cold (and a horrible head-cold), and armed with a large packet of tissues I attended the Jerusalem Web Professionals (JWP) monthly meeting, entitled “Web 3.0 and the Semantic Web: What You Need to Know“.

The presenters were Eitan Burcat and Mike Darnell, together with Eran Lahav, from SemantiNet, an Israeli start-up who have developed a Web 3.0 Firefox add-on (so far that’s all they support, but are working on support for other platforms) they call “headup+ your web, connected

headup the Semantic Web Firefox addon

Their tagline is: “FIND without searching, BOOST your browser, CONNECT your web

Eitan did the presenting, Mike did the demo (see below), and all three answered loads of questions.

The presentation started off with a few slides on the history of Web 3.0, an explanation of the terminology involved, and his example, which is probably more useful in today’s day and age than the dreams of Sir Tim. 

I arrive in a new city, and I’m looking for a place to stay, somewhere to eat, and something fun to do. On my facebook profile, I wrote that I like Madonna, on some other social networking site I mentioned that my mother cooks great Italian food, and I’m registered at a dating site where I’ve tagged my lifestyle. My handheld GPS knows where I am, and can tell me which hotels suiting my lifestyle are in the area, where the best (i.e. with the most recommendations on a local restaurant website) Italian restaurant is nearby, and that there’s a Madonna concert the day after I arrive.

Today I need to go onto the web and look, instead of some cool technology (aka Headup!) offering it to me. 

Headup only uses information freely available on the web, and keeps away from any password-protected stuff and privacy issues. Eitan explained that the connections between the pieces of information are made in realtime, on your PC client. He explained how Headup is different from Google Universal Search (basically, headup goes into social media sites, and all sorts of other places, to find semantically related information).

What was particularly cool about the presentation was that they actually have a working addon, that you can download and add to your FireFox (rather difficult not to see this

on their home page !!!), and about half the presentation was a demo of the thing working.

There were loads of questions from the audience, like:

  • How do you deal with spam?
  • What about adult content?
  • How are going to make money?
  • How many users do you have? (Answer: “more than a few and less than many” !!)
  • What’s the connection with LSI (latent semantic indexing)?
  • Why did you just do an add-on?
  • Who has funded you up to now? (Sir Arnold Cohen, Jeff Pulver, Giza, and others I didn’t catch)
  • What about Hebrew support? (Answer: it’s already there – have a look at the cool example at the end of this post)

and others, which I’ll leave to the headup blog to answer (unless they beg me to write up all my notes!)

The most interesting question, of course, was “how does web 3.0 and the semantic web affect SEO?

Excellent question – the one we all want answered. But there aren’t too many answers around at the moment. Rather, more questions. Like “how are computers going to be able to understand the possible contexts that a human being understands?”. 

It seems obvious that objects (people, things, stuff) will need to be tagged in many different ways, for example “Pink” – the singer or the colour? Using the W3C standards, microformats and the like, will help. But in reality, no-one really knows ….

So, of course, first thing I did when I went home was to install the little Mr. Man superscript (those are a couple of things that it’s supposed to remind you of ….), and lo and behold, it actually works !!

Here are a couple of screen shots (sorry  about the quality – it’s a wordpress crunching thing).

The first shows that when you “headup” the word עזה  (“Azza” – the Hebrew name for Gaza), it even shows you English news items with the word “Gaza” – very impressive. 

headup-hebeng

In the second screenshot I set it up to include my facebook and other friends, and here you can see (just) that it’s picked up one of my friends, “Miriam”, from FriendFeed.

headup-social

So, that’s Headup.

Now where’s the invitation to Test?

Well, it’s simple. 

Mozilla’s policy is that all new add-ons added to their site are considered experimental until they are reviewed.  The top-of-the-crop, those add-ons found to be ready and appropriate for public display, are made public. Experimental addons can be downloaded for testing and reviewing by users who are registered to Mozilla’s site.

So, the Headup team need YOUR positive reviews and ratings! 

These ratings will factor in the Mozilla team’s decision to approve headup as a “public” add-on.

They are asking you to register for Mozilla’s site, visit the headup page and provide them with a your rating and review.

How about trying headup on this blog post? See how much information you can find on Eitan, Mike and Eran (I specially didn’t link their names to anything …)?

That’s it for now. Thanks for sticking around till the end of this post, and see you next time (if you sign up for my RSS feed, of course!)

debi-zyx-signature

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Google Chrome – 3rd time lucky?

This summer has been a bumper season for new products and technologies.

At the end of July I told you about Google Knol and breakaway-from-Google Cuil.

Well, today (that’s the 2nd of September), Google have just launched their new Browser, Google Chrome, slated as “A Fresh Take on the Browser”, and I’m in the process of downloading and installing it (from here) as I write!!

You may remember that I was singularly unimpressed, both by Knol and by Cuil.

But Chrome? Now that (even though I obviously haven’t tried it yet) looks to be a completely different kettle of fish.

Why do I think so? Well, firstly, Google have blogged that “As you may have read in the blogosphere, we hit “send” a bit early on a comic book introducing our new open source browser, Google Chrome“. Yeah, as if anyone really believes that …

But the cartoon they’ve released, explaining why they developed Chrome, what it does, and how it does it, is nothing short of masterful. I urge all you techies to read through all 38 pages of it (don’t worry – it is, after all, cartoon). If you look carefully, you’ll also find the names of the people involved in the project, and their friends and family will find that the comic characters are amazingly alike their real-life counterparts (see the development team explaining it on the Google Chrome video) !!

And if you can’t be bothered to go to Google to see the whole cartoon, you can find it all on Kara Swisher‘s article at All Things Digital. Kara, according to Rafi Needleman for CNET, was first to pick up on Google’s official announcement: Chrome is real.

So What is So Special about Google Chrome?

Stability
Each tab will run in its own process. These processes will be completely isolated from each other, will be killable from the operating system’s process manager, and will be sandboxed to prevent them from accessing information on the user’s computer. This architecture should lead to a more stable and more consistent browsing experience–performance of the browser should not degrade over time.

Or, in laymen’s terms, when one tab decides to spontaneously commit suicide, it doesn’t take all the other tabs with it – AT LONG LAST !!!

How are Google testing the beast?  Well, automation is an absolute must here. And according to the cartoon, Google is using its search index to prioritize testing of the browser–the pages that are linked to the most, from Google Search, are getting the most automated hits to make sure Chrome doesn’t blue-screen on them.

Speed
The browser is being written with WebKit, the open-source engine at the core of Apple’s Safari and Google’s Android. The browser is also getting a new Javascript virtual machine, V8. It’s said to be a better solution for complex and rich Web applications–it should yield better performance as well as “smoother drag and drops” in interactive applications.

Search and user experience

In Chrome, browser tabs will take over the interface, becoming the primary navigational element. Each tab will get its own window controls. Users will be able to tear off tabs into standalone windows. 

The browser’s default start page will show thumbnails of the user’s most frequently visited pages and a list of their top searches. There will also be a private browsing mode, as IE 8 has.
 

(Credit: Gears)

Security
Chrome’s multi-threaded, OS-like architecture lends itself to secure browsing. Each Web page, or tab, runs in its own process, and is blocked from accessing other processes on the computer. “We’ve taking the existing process boundary,” the comic says, “and made it into a jail.”

A database and API to access phishing and scam sites will be used in Chrome (and made public), which will hopefully reduce “zero-day” scam exploits. The browser will be constantly updated with this information.

Standards
The browser will be released as an open-source project. Also, Google will build the open-source local runtime Gears into the browser, and is hoping that it is taking up widely to “improve the base functionality of all browsers.” Using open-source is also a great way for Google to attempt to dissipate fears that they want to take over the whole internet.

So, how will it turn out?

It’s too early to tell. But while I was a bit scathing about the first 2 technology launches this summer, I’m hoping that this one will be worth the time it’s been in the making (and for me to write this!).

And one last comment – while I wrote the last couple of sentences, Chrome actually installed on my computer, and lo and behold, although it may not support Firefox (oops) Mac OS or Linux, it seems to have full support for Hebrew !! (now, how the heck do I get it to go back to English ????)

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Cuil – In Urgent Need of QA?

I love this time of year.

Last week I had Knols to talk about, and this week I’ve got Cuil 🙂 

 

Cuil, pronounced “Cool” looks pretty cool at first glance.

The colour scheme and design of the User interface (trust me to look at that first!) is way cool.

The results lay-out (hang on a minute …) is also très kool.

But the results … Oy, Vey !

First, you need to know what Cuil are saying about themselves (the colours are Cuil’s, the bold is mine!):

Welcome to Cuil—the world’s biggest search engine. The Internet has grown. We think it’s time search did too.

The Internet has grown exponentially in the last fifteen years but search engines have not kept up—until now. Cuil searches more pages on the Web than anyone else—three times as many as Google and ten times as many as Microsoft.

Rather than rely on superficial popularity metrics, Cuil searches for and ranks pages based on their content and relevance. When we find a page with your keywords, we stay on that page and analyze the rest of its content, its concepts, their inter-relationships and the page’s coherency.

There’s more, but you can read it yourselves.

Or have a look at what some of the 1,170,000 search results for Cuil (on Google, of course – on Cuil itself, there are only 121,578 results!) are saying about Cuil: Danny Sullivan, Rafe Needleman at CNET, TechCrunch, Masterworld, you name it, they are saying it.

Or, let’s have a look for ourselves …

Well, tomorrow is the last day of the Blogging Idol competition, so I just HAD to connect this post to that.

So, here’s the results of my search for “the Blogging Idol”  (without the inverted commas). These results are completely undoctored, this is exactly what happened.

Stage 1 : Search for the Blogging Idol

Ok, sorry folks, looks like WordPress.com is “scrunching” my screen shots rather too much …

You’re going to have to believe me that the number in the right hand corner says 2,280 results.

Now look at the bottom left corner. How many pages of results?   2 !!

Stage 2: Click on the > to move the the next page of results.

 

You’re going to have to believe me again that the number in the right hand corner NOW says 5,630 results.

Now look at the bottom left corner. How many pages of results?   4 !!

Stage 3: Click on the “3” to move the the next page of results.

What does that say ? (sorry again, folks, I’ll try to get the WordPress people to fix this …)

It says:

“We didn’t find any results for “the blogging idol ”

Some reasons might be…

  • a typo. Please check your spelling.
  • your search includes a term that is very rare. Try to find a more common substitute.
  • too many search terms. Please try fewer terms.

Finally, try to think of different words to describe your search.”

Amazing, isn’t it !!

So, off you go, QA (and SEO?) readers, get your CVs up-to-date, and send them off to  jobs@cuil.com , looks like they could use you 🙂

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How Much do YOU Knol?

    Yesterday, Google officially launched Google Knol (officially beta of course). In case you don’t know what Google Knol is about, here’s the explanation:

Knols are authoritative articles about specific topics, written by people who know about those subjects ... millions of people know useful things and billions more could benefit from that knowledge. Knol will encourage these people to contribute their knowledge online and make it accessible to everyone.

OK, so isn’t this just a Google version of Wikipedia?

Well no. There are supposedly 2 major differences:

  1. Everything written has an author (or authors). It’s his or her knowledge, opinion, whatever. You can’t change what’s been written (unless you get the author to agree), but you can comment on it.
  2. It isn’t philanthropic….
    As Google states: At the discretion of the author, a knol may include ads from our AdSense program. If an author chooses to include ads, Google will provide the author with a revenue share from the proceeds of those ad placements.  

So, I went to have a look at my favourite topics.

Want to guess what they were?

Of course, it shouldn’t be very difficult – SEO, QA and Testing, Blogging, Photography, Travel

And what did I find?

Well, if you want to know about Kosher Wine (now I really must comment on that one …), head lice (don’t get me onto that subject, PLEASE!), or how to un-clog a toilet, you’ll have so much to read, that I’ll never get you back here 😦

But what about those topics that I (and I hope you) are REALLY interested in?

Well … using the Knol search box, I found ONE, yes ONE, measly Knol on SEO. Actually, it wasn’t measly, it was very good. It was Danny Sullivan‘s excellent list of Firefox plugins for SEO and SEM, which is getting longer as each commenter adds his or her list – great idea. 

Now I Knowl (please excuse the pun) that there is more on SEO there, because I also found Moose’s Knols about SEO, the SEO Knols Group (loads and loads and loads of SEO tools), and his comments on Aharon Wall’s very good SEO Basics.

But whichever way you look at it, it took me ages to find these, and that is just by wading through link after link, mainly from the comments.

And what about the others, you are asking? 

NADA, Nothing, Zilch, כלום (that’s pronounced Klum, as in Heidi), Rien ….

So, either Google Knols has a big, big, bug in their search, AND / OR there’s plenty of scope for all of you to start writing huge numbers of Knols about basically anything you want  …

On the other hand, it looks like Knol topics are doing amazingly well on Google

So, who’s going to join me in Collaborating on QA and Testing?

Anyone for SEO?

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